Cement consumption expected to increase

Analysts predict rebuilding the Gulf Coast region after Hurricane Katrina will push cement consumption even higher then current record levels, according to the Portland Cement Association. Experts estimate that rebuilding New Orleans will require at least four-million-tons of cement during the next four to five years. However, disruption to the cement supply due to port closures in New Orleans is expected to have a minimal effect.

Receding flood waters in New Orleans are revealing the extent of the structural wreckage caused by Hurricane Katrina. Preliminary estimates put property damage in excess of $125 billion, making Katrina the most devastating natural disaster in US history. Experts expect a higher demand for cement than is usually experienced after a hurricane due to the nature of the damage.

An increase in demand for cement in the Gulf Coast region will not occur until clean up is completed, which will take at least two to four months in Florida, Alabama and Mississippi, and in the case of New Orleans, five to nine months. Once the clean up is done, cement will be needed not only for rebuilding, but to complete the jobs started before the hurricane, the association said..

The port of New Orleans is the nation's second largest import terminal for cement, processing nearly 10 percent of all cement imports. However, the short-term decrease of imports caused by the port's closure after the hurricane will be off-set by the region's decrease in cement demand as projects have been postponed during clean-up.

Some cement companies report the additional transportation challenge of finding available trucks, rail cars, and barges to ship the cement to its final destination.

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